Hunting turkeys is my number-one favorite pursuit in the woods. While elk or bighorn sheep hunts obviously represent some pinnacle of the hunting experience, they also involve a ton of effort and stress. Not so much with gobblers. In the spring season, the weather is nice, the country gentle, vegetation lush, and if you blow one opportunity, there’s likely another one over the next ridge.
Speaking of turkeys, I love hunting them but I hate missing them. It happens to everybody because chances often come quickly and unpredictably. And, if a big tom thundering in your face doesn’t get your heart pounding, you should probably see a cardiologist.
When gobbler fever strikes, it can send shots too high over that big red head. That’s a product of not getting down on the gun—welding your cheek to the stock, leveling off the ramp, vertically and horizontally aligning your forward and rear sights. A few years ago, I finally realized what a lot of hardcore turkey hunters have known for a long time: red dot sights remove that possibility and help put shots on target far more reliably than iron sights.
Wherever the red dot in the sight is pointed, that’s where the load is going to hit. Even if you’re half-crouched and contorting your body around a tree, putting the dot in the bottom left-hand corner of the sight window, if it’s on target the pellets will be too. That’s why I switched to a red dot and haven’t looked back.
I also love the precision and adjustability of a red dot. If you’re using regular open sights and have a load and choke combination that’s shooting high and left at 30 yards, for example, without any adjustability you’re going to have a hard time compensating for where the shot will hit. With a red dot, you have all the adjustability of a rifle scope. If you’re 6 inches left at 30 yards, you can easily make windage adjustments and bring your pattern right in line. That exactness makes me all the more confident every time I pull the trigger on my Weatherby 12-gauge.
I first started with the Vortex Venom and now I’m using the new Vortex Sparc Solar. It’s one hell of a high-tech piece of gear. While the tiny solar panel on the top doesn’t charge the battery, it does extend the life. Also, if it’s receiving enough ambient daylight, the solar panel can power the red dot on its own. Only in low-light conditions will it use the battery. And, that CR22 battery can last up to 150,000 hours—five times as long as a standard red dot.
The dot in the Sparc Solar is also motion activated. If you set your shotgun down for 14 hours, the red dot will automatically power down. However, once you pick it back up it turns right back on, set at the same illumination level as you left it.
If you want to step up into the big leagues of tipping gobblers, you need a red dot on your gun. You can learn more on the Vortex website or get your own now at the MeatEater Store.